How to Buy a $75 Bottle of Wine for $25: Just Remove the Label
on 29/03/11 at 8:01 amWine
In the recession era, the fastest-growing segment of the wine industry is in the $9-$12 range. High-end wineries, on the other hand, have found it nearly impossible to sell bottles for their $50 or $75 retail price. Consumers just aren’t splurging on wine the way they used to. Rather than mark down their merchandise and do permanent damage to their reputations as sellers of luxury products, many wine makers are turning to companies that’ll sell the vino anonymously on the cheap—and buyers and drinkers never find out exactly who made the wine. The result is that a bottle of wine that usually costs $35 is sold for just $18—only it comes with a generic, no-name label.
Well, technically, there is a label on the bottle: 90+Cellars. The company, created by a Boston entrepreneur named Kevin Mehra, is featured in a Boston Globe story that describes the business model (many operations sell marked-down wine in similar fashion), but also what sets this business apart:
90+Cellars tries to distinguish itself from the competition by only carrying finished wines that have received a gold medal or 90-plus rating in a past vintage. The company’s name is derived from the high scores that the trade publication Wine Spectator and other industry critics confer upon top-tier wines. 90+Cellars promises to keep the wineries’ names secret in exchange for hefty discounts — savings that are passed on to customers.
Saving money and drinking wine with a tiny dose of mystery: This sounds like a magical combo. Come to think of it, plenty of casual wine drinkers I know rarely ever pay attention to what’s on the wine label anyway. What matter is what’s inside the bottle—and the fact that you got it at a steep discount doesn’t hurt. Everything tastes better on sale, right?
It’s not as if you’re expected to buy a bottle and you have no idea whether it’s Chardonnay or Chianti or Two-Buck Chuck inside. 90+Cellars offers some clues as to what the buyer can expect.